Growing opposition to death penalty

Despite questions from many regarding the testimony and evidence in the case, Troy Anthony Davis was executed in Georgia late Wednesday night. Davis had been convicted of killing an off-duty Savannah police officer. On the day of the execution, both the Georgia state Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court considered whether it should go on as scheduled. In the end, neither the state nor the federal court decided to stop the execution.

Earlier in the week, representatives for Davis asked the State Board of Pardons and Paroles for a reprieve, which was denied. They asked a second time, but this time they were joined in their request by U.S. Congressmen, former Department of Corrections officials, and others. They were once again denied. A final request was made to allow Davis to take a polygraph test, that request was also denied.

In 1991 Davis was convicted of shooting and killing the officer in 1991. He despite the fact that the weapon was never found, and that no blood, fingerprint or DNA evidence implicated him. After the conviction, several individuals issued sworn statements that another man had confessed to them that he had pulled the trigger. This other man had been the first person to implicate Davis. Other witnesses who had testified for the prosecution also renounced or changed their stories.

Three of the jurors that convicted Davis now say that they have questions about his guilt and asked that he not be executed. Before being executed, Davis told the fallen officer’s family that the incident was not his fault and that he did not pull the trigger.

It is understandable that the family members of a murder victim might desire to see the person convicted receive the most severe punishment. But when there is uncertainty as to the identity of the culprit, there is a serious risk that, rather than punishing a crime, the state is ending the life of an innocent man.

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution “Davis appeals fail; executed for ’89 murder,” By Bill Rankin and Rhonda Cook, Sept21, 2011